PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — A new public market will open Thursday, May 15, downtown along Riverside Drive.
The project was initially set to kick off last year but the timing wasn’t right for vendors and so plans were pushed back to allow participants more time to prepare.
“We have about eight banners hung in and around Riverside Drive to familiarize people,” Ken Arndt, the city’s director of planning and development, told city councilors as he updated them on the project at their May 5 meeting.
“We thought we were ready late last summer but had to stop the process when we learned people had other commitments for their products,” said Arndt.
Arndt said this will be more than a farmer’s market, offering artisans an opportunity to share their works as well.
“There will be growers and artisans. This will be larger than the mall’s [farmer’s market],” he said.
He said vendors were notified as early as January to allow them time to prepare for the weekly festivities.
“In order to get vendors to come, we’ve planned bathroom facilities, given them a lot of marketing assistance, since some were concerned about not being in as prime a location as the mall,” Arndt said.
According to Arndt, “this is an expansion of the whole concept of a public market.” He said it won’t be in direct competition with the mall’s, since it will offer different merchandise and be held on Thursday and Friday.
“The mall market will continue on Saturdays; ours will be on Thursday and Friday only until 6 p.m. on each day. This is an opportunity to not ruffle feathers of those at the mall, because they still have their Saturdays,” he said.
Signs have been added to the four gateway signs in town, to direct customers to the new public market.
“We’re opening Thursday, May 15, on schedule and on time,” he said.
“This is a temporary market in the sense we’re opening this year. We’ll work over the winter to get a permanent structure in the area of the courthouse and walkway we talked about before,” said Arndt. “The police chief acquired several military tents — 16 feet by 35 feet maintenance tents with windows. We can use those, with a center aisle for people to go down through. We’ve done a limited amount of site prep, put in some gravel for good traction,” said Arndt.
Arndt said plans are to do a logo contest specifically for the market and whoever wins will receive a gift certificate to shop the vendors at the market.
“The effort here is to develop the Riverside area with this public market as a place to be. The police chief has gotten an open-air TV projector to have videos down there; healthy lifestyle demos on kayaking, canoeing, cooking and more are planned,” said Arndt. “There seems to be a whole lot of interest in the community over this.”
City Manager Jim Bennett said this project has been in the works for several years.
“If we go back to the strategic plan process of three years ago, this was one of the issues discussed then. Despite a worsening financial situation, staff and everyone continued to plug away. I believe this will make a difference for generations, having a public market,” said Bennett.
For more information, call Arndt at 760-2727.